Empowering Excellence: How Leaders Make Good Things Happen
Do your employees know how their jobs tie into the larger mission of your organization?
Chances are they don’t, and your company may be missing out as a result. While one of the most important things a company’s leaders can do is set the company’s vision, mission and goals, all too often they stop there. The real challenge for anyone at the helm of an organization is to make sure everyone in that organization knows how they fit in and how what they do ties into the whole. While you may have set an inspiring mission and clear vision and goals, if your employees don’t know how what they do fits into the accomplishment of those goals or the execution of that mission, you’re not firing on all cylinders as an organization.
Obviously, the first thing that needs to happen is to have a clear statement of where the company is headed.
Leaders Empower Excellence
After that, leaders need to know how to empower their teams, how to connect each and every job to the big picture. Unless and until that happens, the company may continue to operate efficiently, perhaps, but may still not reach its full potential. Leaders empower excellence. And every team or division leader needs to know how to convey to their teams how what they do connects with the company’s mission. I like to think of it this way: Even the most burdensome, repetitive tasks in a given company can be embraced if the employee performing the task can see how what he/she does makes the company better. As someone once said to me, “You’re not burdening them, you’re giving them a chance to excel.”
Let me give you an example here. At an organization I worked with, our project managers (PMs) tended to think of themselves in terms of their job title. Our project management team used to be a group of administratively talented employees who coordinated our project work. The goal was to make our customers happy at the conclusion of some very complex systems setups and installations. Their role was fairly passive and very reactive to our engineering teams, customer service teams and other groups in the company.
When a new director of operations took over, he began challenging his team to become active contributors through revenue generation and high customer satisfaction scores. When the PMs began to view their role in this way, they left passivity behind. They started controlling project scope, cost and additional project scope opportunities like never before. What was once viewed as a passive part of the company now became an even more important asset to close new business and increase customer satisfaction scores.
There is no better way to make a customer happy than to finish the job on time and on budget. Generating greater project revenue through the addition of features and capabilities is an untapped opportunity if the PM fails to clearly communicate to the customer through detailed project plans and clear customer and interdepartmental communication.
Our PMs could clearly see how they contributed to the company’s bottom line and set themselves up for company recognition. What started as painful “extra work” turned into an award-winning, career-building effort. And as we started looking at how these changes related to a well-managed project and corporate revenues, we found that successful PMs were those who saw themselves in very dynamic terms — rather than managing projects, they were generating revenue. “We drive revenue” is how fully engaged PMs might see themselves.
So what are some of the rules of the road that need to be followed if we are to fully empower employees in the pursuit of excellence?
Job #1: Define Vision and Mission, and Set Clear Goals
As a first step, the company must clearly define its mission, its vision and its goals. The mission and vision must become a rallying point for the entire organization. Senior leadership must make sure that each department knows both the company’s mission and its vision, and they need to clearly set measurable goals for everyone.
Every member of the team needs to be aware of how he or she contributes to the company’s broader vision. As we saw clearly, the PM team caught the vision.
On to the next challenge: the billing team. Can we help this team see itself as a vital part of the company? Here we go!
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